Posted by: brandextenders | August 18, 2010

Cheap T-shirts…Not!

The word cheap and T-shirts may soon be a thing of the past as a combination of factors creates a “perfect storm” of heartburn for manufacturers and consumers alike.

 The economic slowdown over the past two years has had so many ripple effects in so many areas of our lives that it’s hard to keep up. I make my living selling promotional marketing to corporations and a big part of that is apparel, including T-shirts. Over the last few years many factories that manufactured T-shirts both here and abroad shut down because demand was so greatly reduced. As a result farmers switched from growing cotton to other crops, like soybeans, since cotton sales were near an all-time low. Now as we start to crawl out of the recession demand has kicked back in for cotton and the products made from it (think T-shirts!) and suddenly supply can’t keep up with that demand.

 In the world of economics when there is more call for a product than there is product to support it prices will naturally rise. There is less cotton to go around so manufacturer’s like Hanes, Gildan and Fruit-of-the Loom (the big three T-shirt suppliers) take what they can get, produce less product and have to raise prices to cover the cost of more expensive cotton which is 55% higher than this same time last year. Add to that the rising price of labor in China due to increasing capacity and employers needing to pay more to keep qualified workers along with fuel prices that keep inching up and you’ve got trouble with a capital T.

 The first half of this year prices were relatively stable, but July 1 saw price increases on most major brands of T-shirts and they are scheduled to rise again next month. Inventory levels are still trying to catch up with demand so if you should happen to place an order for a large quantity of T-shirts you may find you have to wait longer, you will pay more or both.

There have been deep discounts for the last few years on many products and services and some sectors will take longer to rebound along with the subsequent higher prices. Fortunately or unfortunately, apparel is one of those areas that have rebounded quickly and as a result you’ll see prices inching up even after the supply has caught up with demand.

 T-shirts are still one of the best values in terms of ROI when it comes to brand exposure. A $4.00 T-shirt worn 50 times gives you a cost-per-exposure of a whopping .08 cents. And depending on how cool (figuratively speaking!) the design is, it may be seen not only by the wearer, but by dozens of others each time it’s worn. As with all promotional products; be creative, use a T-shirt supplier that is professional and purchase a good quality shirt that will last beyond one washing. After all, one can never have too many T-shirts!

 With 24 years in promotional marketing, Steve Woodburn works with clients to develop creative and measurable solutions that solve their marketing needs using promotional products, uniform programs, online company stores, point-of-sale initiatives and rewards and recognition. He builds long-term relationships and becomes a trusted advisor and consultant his clients can turn to for all their brand extension needs. You can reach him at:

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